Planning a big meal for friends and family can be a huge project. There are so many things to shop for, prep, cook and more. It can be overwhelming and not to mention, this is already the busiest time of the year. Planning your perfect holiday menu ahead of time can help you feel less stressed and more organized. So today I’m going to share some practical tips on how to plan your holiday menu for effortless dinner parties or holiday celebrations.
How To Plan A Holiday Menu
Create A Guest List
By having all your guests listed out you’ll have a good idea of not only how many people are coming, but the types of people. Maybe your one friend eats like a bird, but her husband always eats all the appetizers every time he comes over. You’ll be able to better visualize your menu if you know who to expect instead of just knowing you’re having 8 people. 8 girlfriends over for dinner may be totally different than 3 couples and some kids! This also allows you to write down any food allergies that people may have or dietary preferences.
Brainstorm A Menu
Start writing down a handful of items you may want to cook or buy for your big holiday meal. From appetizers to snacks, a signature drink and mains and sides. Don’t forget about dessert too. Build a well-rounded holiday menu so guests have a great time and leave full! By having a list written out you can then do two things. Delegate some of it out (seriously, delegate!) and then also fine-tune your grocery list for when you head to the store. Plus, you’ll be able to then plan out your schedule.
Having your menu written out also helps in case someone says “hey I plan on bringing my famous mashed potatoes” then you can add it to your list, or let them know that you already have that covered and to maybe just bring some wine and call it a day. Having it all written down so you can SEE it and reference it is super helpful!
Have A Well Rounded Menu
When coming up with your menu make sure it’s well rounded. A mix of vegetables (greens for sure!) a starch or two, and your main protein. If you’re having tons of people, add in a second protein which is great for the holidays. This is when a Honeybaked Ham comes in handy on top of your usual turkey.
Write A Shopping List
You can not and should not wing it at the grocery store. When grocery shopping it’s important to have a full list! Pull out your cookbooks and write down everything you need. Cross-reference with your fridge, then head to the store.
Schedule Your Cooking
Instead of trying to knock out the cooking in one day, spread it out. Starches and veggies can easily be done a couple of days prior to entertaining. Spread out what you can to allow yourself more time to get things done and so you aren’t doing it all at once. It’ll feel so much less overwhelming and you’ll be thankful you had a plan!
Don’t Forget Great Cocktails and Wine
No dinner party or holiday celebration is complete without a great cocktail or wine. This should also be part of your holiday menu planning. Make sure your liquor bar is stocked with what you need for a signature holiday cocktail and a few other essentials. And don’t forget to add a few bottles of white wine and champagne to your fridge to chill. If you forget to do this, just wrap a wet paper towel around the bottle and pop it into the freezer for a short bit. It’ll chill your wine super fast if you’re in a pinch!